Mary J. Wilkinson (1872 - 1940)

Mary J. Wilkinson
(1872 - 1940)

Mary J. Wilkinson was born 17 April 1872 in Port Hope, Durham County, Ontario, Canada.  Her parents were John Wilkinson, Sr. and Mahala Sayers.  Her seven siblings were Manley R. Wilkinson; William James Wilkinson; Katherine "Kate" Wilkinson (married first to Carl Thor, and later to Abner Ainger); John Wilkinson, Jr.; Frederick Wilkinson; Ella M. Wilkinson (Mrs. Floyd Luchini); and Jennie Emma Wilkinson.  In the fall of 1879, the family  emigrated from Canada to Whitehall Township, Muskegon County, Michigan, U.S.A.

George Emmett  & Mary J. (Wilkinson) Lewis, 1917 Mary’s father was a carpenter; perhaps this is how she met her husband, George Emmett Lewis, also a carpenter.  They were married 31 December 1891 in Muskegon, Muskegon County, Michigan.  They had thirteen children, eleven of whom survived infancy.  It is possible that during the years from 1892 – 1895, and also in 1901, the family lived in a different county, because there are no records of the children born during those years in the birth records of Muskegon County.  Their children included: George R.; Harrison; Alvin L.; Horace Russel; David Alexander; Donald; my great-grandmother Marie; Percy; Leslie W.; Bessie; Bertha Katherine; and James Preston Lewis.  One child of Mary and George is still living as of 2004. 
See the bottom of this page for more specific information about these children.

In 1897, the family was living in Blue Lake Township, Muskegon County.  In 1899, and from 1902 – 1913, they were living in Whitehall Township, Muskegon County.  The 1900 Polk Directory for Muskegon County shows their residence at a house on the corner of Colby and Franklin Streets in Whitehall Village.  When the 1920 Federal Census was taken, George and Mary, along with their children Horace, Donald, Marie (with her husband William Bryan Robbins), Percy, Bonnie, Leslie, Bertha and James, were living at 1132 Hoyt Street in Muskegon Heights, Muskegon County.  Later, Bill and Marie lived next door with the first two of their five children.

Mary J. (Wilkinson) Lewis & two grandsons, 1924 A very early memory of Marys grandson Bob (my grandfather) was of her saying grace at the table.  She prayed the Fourteenth Psalm: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight.”

Mary died 25 October 1940, in Whitehall Township, Muskegon County, Michigan.  Despite her mother's family's history of longevity, she was only 68 years old when she died.  She was buried three days later in Oakhurst Cemetery, Whitehall Township. 

Deceased Children:

George R. Lewis was born 6 September 1892.  He never married.  As a young man, he moved from the family home in Whitehall to Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan, where he worked at Colleton's Pharmacy.  A motorcycle enthusiast, George and a friend, Thomas Martin, planned to ride from Grand Rapids to New York City, then head south along the Atlantic seaboard.  On 6 May 1913, two days after George bought a  motorcycle for the trip, he met with an accident while testing it out.  He later died from his injuries, on 8 May 1913 at St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Rapids.  His body was shipped to Whitehall and was buried Oakhurst Cemetery on 10 May 1913.  (obituary)

Harrison Lewis was born 3 February 1894.  He was married with at least one child, and was a pharmacist in Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan.  He died February 1984 (age 90) and was buried in Grand Rapids.

Alvin L. Lewis was born 31 May 1895 and died 22 October 1895.  No record of him exists in Muskegon County Vital Records; and although the family records state he was buried in Whitehall Township, I have not found his gravesite listed in any cemetery records for Muskegon County.

Horace Russel Lewis was born 13 June 1897 in Blue Lake Township, Muskegon County, Michigan.  He served in World War I.  In 1920, he was living with his parents in Muskegon Heights, Muskegon County and working as a laborer in a foundry. He was married with at least one child and lived in Pennsylvania and Wadestown, West Virginia.  His last known residence was Fairview, Marion County, West Virginia.  He died 28 July 1992 (age 95).

David Alexander Lewis was born 4 April 1899 in Whitehall Township.  He was married with two children. He left home at an early age and went to the Dakotas and Wyoming to break horses.  The only white man he saw for a year was the ranch owner he worked for there in Indian Country.  He later broke horses for Pershing’s expedition into Mexico from Texas. At an even later date, he went to France during World War I.  He lived his last days in the Veterans’ Home in Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan.  He passed away in 1998 or 1999, at or near the age of 100.  I have not been able to find a definite death date for him in the Social Security Death Index, so perhaps he did not have a Social Security number.

Donald Lewis was born 17 April 1901 in Michigan (apparently not in Muskegon County).  In 1920, he too, along with his brother Horace was living with his parents in Muskegon Heights, Muskegon County, and working as a laborer in a foundry.  He was married twice; his second wife was Agnes H. Stroebe (died 1981), whom he married in 1939.  They had three children.  His last known residence was in Muskegon, Muskegon County. He died 27 April 1989 (age 88). 

Marie Lewis – my great-grandmother

Percy Lewis was born 26 August 1903 in Whitehall Township.  In 1920, he was living with his parents in Muskegon Heights, Muskegon County, working as a helper in a refrigerator factory.  In 1925, he married Clarice (1903 - 1975) and had eight children.  At various times he lived in Norton Township and Muskegon.  His last known residence was Spring Lake, Ottawa County, Michigan.  He died 10 June 1980.

Leslie W. Lewis was born 16 June 1907 in Whitehall Village.  He was living in Muskegon Heights, Muskegon County in 1920.  In 1929, he married Harriet Dobb (1903 - 1993) and had three children.  He died of leukemia on 10 January 1942 in Muskegon. 

Bessie Lewis was a stillborn baby born 14 July 1909 in Whitehall Village, Whitehall Township, Muskegon County, Michigan.  She was buried in Oakhurst Cemetery, Whitehall Township.

Bertha Katherine Lewis was born 3 May 1911 in Whitehall Village.  In 1938, she married Louis F. Janda (1902 - 1991) and had one child.  She lived in North Muskegon.  She died 30 September 1990 in Muskegon.

James Preston “Jim” Lewis was born 6 February 1913 in Whitehall Village.  He met his wife while they were both cadets at the Salvation Army School for Officer’s Training in Chicago, Cooke County, Illinois.  They had three children.  Jim died 1 November 1991 in Muskegon.

More about my great-great-grandmother, Mary J. Wilkinson, can be found in the upcoming AnceStories of her parents, John Wilkinson and Mahala Sayers, her husband George Emmett Lewis, and her daughter, Marie Lewis..

I would like to acknowledge my late great-grandmother Marie (Lewis) Robbins, who carefully kept the family photos and generously shared the history of the Lewis family with my mother, who in turn, shared it with me.  Much of Marie's work is in this webpage.  Also, many thanks to Great-Aunt Joyce, who shared her recollections of the Lewis uncles, aunts and cousins.

Photos courtesy of Bob Robbins.  Top photo: George Emmett Lewis and Mary J. Wilkinson Lewis, 1917.  Bottom photo: Mary J. Wilkinson Lewis and two of her grandsons, 1923.

Miriam Robbins Midkiff
created: 5 Jul 2003
updated: 29 Aug 2004

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